Travel training to help disabled youngsters

A new £75,000 scheme is set to help Derbyshire youngsters get out and about in their communities.

Derbyshire County Council has set up an independent travel training project to help young people with reduced mobility, learning difficulties or low confidence to be able to use public transport safely.

Classroom and practical training will be offered to children to help them get to school, employment and be able to socialise.

The authority ran two successful pilot projects, in Buxton and Chesterfield. Youngsters learned about road safety, journey planning, money and time management and personal safety.

Now the scheme is being rolled out countywide to support around 125 youngsters.

Coun Mike Longden, Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “We shared our plans with headteachers of our special schools and hope to help youngsters involved become more confident and give them the chance to broaden their horizons.

“It should have a positive impact on their quality of life and will help them use facilities in their communities they might not have been able to otherwise.

“Being able to travel independently will expand employment opportunities for these young people and help them in their future.

“I hope children and families feel the benefit of this training for years to come.”

The authority has commissioned the charity National Star Foundation to deliver the project through their Learning Independence for Travel (Lift) Training scheme.

Derbyshire is one of a number of other local authorities, including Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Gloucestershire, to provide independent travel training.

In addition to helping young people it also helps authorities save on specialist transport assistance so funding can be invested in other services for children.

Ian Clark, Lift Training programme manager, said: “The ability to travel independently underpins so many aspects of life from choices about our education to where we live and work.

“The personalised approach of Lift Training is highly success and has a long-lasting impact on the lives of disabled, disadvantaged and vulnerable people, increasing their access to education, employment and training.

“We’re really excited Derbyshire County Council is joining our network and look forward to improving the lives of young people with them.”